Kendall Puryear Found “Perfect” Fit With Purdue Women’s Basketball

When Kendall Puryear made the trek from Blue Springs, Missouri, to West Lafayette, she had no plans of committing to the Boilermakers immediately. That quickly changed when the 6’2″ forward stepped on Purdue’s campus in February.

“I actually was aiming to commit at the end of the summer, but I went on an official [visit] to Purdue about a month ago, and after that, I just knew. I just had that feeling,” Puryear said.

Puryear held over a dozen offers, including Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati, and Missouri. After receiving heavy interest on the recruiting trail, it boiled down to Oklahoma State and Purdue before she ultimately chose the Boilermakers.

The instant bond she created with head coach Katie Gearlds and the Purdue coaching staff was a large part of that decision. As soon as Puryear got to West Lafayette, she felt the family atmosphere from Gearlds.

“I don’t know if you’ve met Katie Geralds before, but her personality, the way she coaches, that was it,” Puryear said. “I went down there, and it was just an instant connection. Like they’re a family I could have away from home.”

During their conversations throughout the recruiting process, Gearlds made Puryear feel like a priority. The Boilermakers’ head coach also showed her latest recruit firsthand the type of coach and mentor she is.

“It is very easy to talk to her. I feel like every time she texts me or I text her, it’s like she’s motivational. She’s a very motivational person, and she always has the right thing to say,” Puryear said of her future head coach.

In April 2022, the Boilermakers became the first division one school to offer Puryear a scholarship. The Missouri native did not know much about the storied Big Ten school but soon learned about what Purdue was building. Before Katie Gearlds’ arrival, the program had been stuck in neutral and was coming off its lowest win total in nearly 30 years.

“Coach has made a big, big jump, especially since before she got there. It was a little down there, but I felt like she really came in and turned it around,” Puryear said.

Gearlds became the third coach in program history to improve the team’s win total in each of her first two years, joining the legendary Lin Dunn and Carolyn Peck. This past season, Purdue reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017 and had its first winning conference record since 2018. The Boilermakers are trending upwards, and Puryear wanted to join the climb in West Lafayette.

The 2023 MBCA All-State selection was also intrigued by how she will fit in Purdue’s plans as she views the Boilermakers’ offensive philosophy as a perfect fit for her skillset.

“Purdue’s the perfect school for the position I want to be. I feel like Purdue plays a more inside-out game, and that’s kind of what I’m good at. If I get the ball inside, and I’m stuck, or I can’t get a shot off, then I can kick it back out to good guards, and we have some good guards coming in,” Puryear said.

The 6’2″ forward is the first commitment in the class of 2024, but she will follow the highly touted 2023 recruiting class. Mary Ashley Groot, Rashunda Jones, Emily Monson, McKenna Layden, and Sophie Swanson make up the top 25 recruiting class coming to Purdue ahead of next season.

Puryear will look to make an immediate impact alongside that group in a couple of years. She averaged 16.4 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 58% from the field during her junior campaign. Puryear was also second in field goal percentage and 15th in scoring in Missouri last season.

Puryear’s aspirations are simple. By the time her collegiate career is said and done, she wants to be remembered. She shared that her main objectives are to be the Big Ten Freshman of the Year to start her career and, later on down the line, see her numbers hanging in the rafters with the likes of Stephanie White, Katie Douglas, and other legends of the program. Eventually, she would also like to join the Leroy Keyes Purdue Athletics Hall of Fame.

Puryear has high hopes for her Boilermaker career and will look to continue the program’s trajectory when she arrives in West Lafayette in 2024.

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